Monday, October 1, 2012

Angels Among Us

Unique Bodies~Determined Souls will be reposting through October some of it's most popular blog chapters from the past year since its inception while on a hiatus. We will return with new blog chapters about the individuals we serve who are breaking free of limitations and their "disability" to express and live more fully in their "ability" within the community.

If you find these popular blog chapters touching and inspiring, please share with others who may enjoy knowing about Wendell Foster's Campus and the people we serve. And as always, thank you for reading!

Each year, Wendell Foster’s Campus (WFC) hosts a Christmas party for everyone who lives in our residential programs, eighty-plus people. Nothing is spared for this event which is spearheaded by Sarah Poole, Jennifer Owsley and staff from our amazing recreational department. A catered lunch by a local barbecue place is provided, and this year, diners were serenaded by the beautiful music of Randy Lanham and his musical students. Always a popular volunteer for WFC, Randy and his students bring their stringed instrumental music to our Campus, and it’s joyous to the ears. Each program participant also receives a couple of gifts to open; what’s a Christmas party without a gift to open! I enjoy this event as I blessedly capture the holiday festivity on camera. This event also provided me with a wonderful opportunity to meet many of these folks we serve for the very first time since starting two months earlier.

Unfortunately, many who we serve through our residential programs don’t have families, or they have families that live out of state. Some family members may visit a week or so before Christmas, while others spend Christmas day with their families. The holidays can be tough for anyone who has no family or feels disconnected from them. Sarah, Jennifer, and their staff work year-round to ensure no one on our Campus goes without a gift or a joyous holiday experience. They host several fundraisers and activities throughout the year to secure the funds for gift purchases for residents. Friday Lunch Canteens, a “yard sale”, recycling, and other such activities are but a few of the ways they raise money to make sure everyone has a gift to open, either at the party or on Christmas day. But it’s never enough. Our community’s generosity supports our staff’s efforts in this goal. For example, groups such as the preschool children of Hastings Early Learning School on Tamarack Road collected over seventy gifts this last holiday season. With this generosity, every person living on our Campus is assured to have a couple of gifts to open on Christmas morning, family or no family.

This year our Campus was touched by a Poinsettia Angel. A staff member shopping for poinsettias for our holiday parties at Walmart sought assistance from a store clerk, asking the maximum number of plants she could purchase. Upon return, the clerk asked how many she wanted, additionally asking if twenty-four would be enough. Our staff person said “sure” and they proceeded to pick the best looking poinsettias and load them up for purchase. As she headed to the register to pay, the clerk advised the poinsettias were already paid for by another Walmart shopper. It was their gift to our Campus.

WOW! On Wendell Foster’s Campus, the spirit of Santa Claus was alive and well. And being a part of it was the greatest gift I received this last Christmas; one of the most wonderful gifts I’ve received and felt in a long while. Witnessing such Christmas Spirit shared with our Campus restored my faith in humanity and validated for me what really matters amidst the chaos of the season. Yes, there’s always room for improvement for greater acceptance and respect within our community for the folks we serve. But the generous outpouring and kindness given outshined those less than stellar experiences of scorn and discrimination. That generosity brightened the lives of eighty plus individuals living on the Wendell Foster’s Campus, and one new employee.
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